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John Oliver Explains What Makes the Parkland School Shooting Different in Return of Last Week Tonight


john oliver last week tonight 2/18

Last Week Tonight was back on the air last night and host John Oliver began with the tragedy that’s been on everyone’s mind: the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

“We basically automatically already know how each side will play out,” said Oliver, laying out the script that we’ve sadly gotten used to seeing. “Thoughts and prayers. Fuck your thoughts and prayers. It’s a mental health problem, but it’s also a gun problem, and then someone says, ‘Now’s not the time to talk about gun control’, and everyone moves on until it inevitably happens again.”

“But this time felt slightly different,” says the host. “Because when the ‘Now’s not the time’ argument came out, the kids from that school said, ‘You know what? Yes it fucking is.'”

You’ve likely seen the videos of the Parkland students organizing protests and rallying for action. They’ve been calling on people to vote, speak out, and organize. There’s a nationwide walk out planned, as well as the March For Our Lives coming up. After showing a clip of student Emma Gonzalez’s speech which features the chant “We call BS”, Oliver says, “‘We call BS.’ It is a little ironic that the people who are acting with the most maturity in this horrifying situation aren’t even old enough to say the word ‘bullshit’ in front of their parents.” It’s both inspiring to watch these teenagers rally, and incredibly upsetting that they are put in a position where they have make up for how adults and the government have failed them.

It’s nothing short of amazing that amidst their grief and anger, they’re fighting so other students can feels safe in schools. It’s nothing short of infuriating that their bravery is being dismissed by those who refuse to listen. Oliver pointed to how in response to the question of whether or not Republicans would take notice of On the March For Our Lives next month, CNN analyst Andre Bauer seemed prepared to blame literally anything except gun laws: rap music, television, Tide pods, etc.

To acknowledge that guns are a problem shouldn’t be a high bar to clear. While teenagers are mourning their classmates and trying to prevent this kind of violence from happening, it’s nothing short of insulting to claim they don’t know what’s best for them.

The rest of the episode takes a look at the big stories around the globe, and the main story of the night dissects Donald Trump’s relationship with the world. Specifically, it addresses how his foreign policy consists mainly of insulting nations, completely ignoring the importance of diplomacy and soft power, and exacerbating the leadership vacuum that he’s left in the world. It ends with a wonderful musical finale at the end, where Oliver explained what made him fall in love with America was its combination of greatness and terribleness.

(via The Hollywood Reporter, image: HBO screencap)

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